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VICE Specials

The Battle for Medical Marijuana in Japan

While the West moves towards legalisation, Japan's cannabis laws remain resolutely harsh.

While the West carries on its steady course towards legalisation, piggybacking on the ever-increasing awareness of marijuana's medicinal properties, Japan's cannabis laws remain resolutely harsh. However, a recently discovered loophole allows for the non-psychoactive compound, CBD, to be imported and consumed within Japan. CBD, which has numerous health benefits, is extracted from the stalk of the plant, whereas Japanese law only forbids use of the plant's leaves and flowers.  Shirasaka, head member of Taima Houdou Centre, a legalisation group and advocate for medicinal cannabis – and the man who discovered the CBD loophole – is currently awaiting trial for marijuana possession but plans to fight his case on the basis of cannabis's remarkable therapeutic properties. We went to visit Shirasaka as he prepares for his trial.

We also visit terminally ill cancer patient POP – a woman who claims that CBD has helped her live years beyond her prognosis – and witness a family with a severely epileptic child try CBD for the first time, with incredible results.